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Environment and Sustainability: Using Library Resources


For your assignments, you may want to access what is called "grey literature." This is a term used to encompass information that is produced outside of traditional publishing channels. Grey literature is often produced to be of specific use to governments, companies, or other organizations. This type of information can be in the form of a report, newsletter, speech, working paper, etc. Grey literature is usually not peer reviewed so you will need to critically evaluate what you find in order to ensure quality and validity (see below). Some library databases index some grey literature, but often, these materials are found on the open internet.

Google is simple and the algorithm is powerful, meaning you can find decent information. However, Google isn't filtered for quality, and so if you are going to use it, you must do the filtering yourself.

  • Visit this USask Library page for some critical questions to ask when you are evaluating internet sources: Critical Questions for Evaluating Your Sources
  • Visit this USask library page that will equip you with information and suggested tools for being savvy online searchers, consumers, curators, collaborators, creators, and communicators. Are You Information Savvy?

Google Scholar

Google Scholar seems like a wonder search! Throw in some keywords and come back with thousands, or even hundreds of thousands of results. Google Scholar has many redeeming qualities but there are also some challenges associated with it. The bottom line is you can use Google Scholar for your work, but don't use only it. Make sure to use reliable, quality databases found elsewhere in this guide.

Pros and Cons of Google Scholar
Pros Cons
Familiar and pretty simple to use (like Google).

Returns many hits but not necessarily comprehensive coverage; use other sources, too.

Returns hits consisting of articles, books, conference proceedings, etc. Quality varies on Google Scholar, so you need to know how to determine if the results are what you need, i.e. scholarly. Critical Questions for Assessing Your Sources
Provides a link to “related articles” which can help your search. Cannot limit results to peer reviewed or full text, or limit by discipline.
Shows full text articles from USask or elsewhere. Less is more – with Google Scholar, you get more results which can be daunting to wade through.
Allows you to save citations and articles to read later. Often takes you to publishers’ website where they ask you to pay for an article. Do Not Pay – take the citation and find the article in the USask Library.